With more companies using Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) for employee communication and collaboration, the influence of ESN on organizational hierarchies has been subject of discussions in science and practice. Conversely, the question if formal hierarchies affect interaction inside ESN and outside (i.e., personal interaction or interaction via traditional media) in the same way has not yet been addressed. The aim of our research is to analyse those hierarchical effects. By contrasting a rich dataset comprising two years of communication and collaboration inside an ESN with data from an online survey, we found significant differences between the hierarchical effects inside and outside the ESN and their impact on communication and collaboration. Although our findings indicate significant impact of formal hierarchy, we found it to be weaker inside the ESN. We conclude that interaction inside ESN is more inclusive and balanced across hierarchical levels.
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